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Kale crisps

Updated: Tue, 28 March, 2023

Crisps made from flavoured cavolo nero, or black kale leaves. A win over potato crisps in all nutritional categories except for taste (IMHO only).

kale crisps

Kale afficionados, forgive me

I’ll be honest from the start about kale: I’m not a fan.

I have professed loud and clear that I consider it inedible and its popularity is quite incomprehensible to me. So kale crisps? Nah.

But as I also often say, don’t diss what you haven’t tried. You can’t form an opinion on hearsay and that’s too true about food especially.

So with heavy heart I set out to test kale crisps and form an opinion.

I was hoping to be wrong. I was looking forward to being floored by the texture and complexity of flavour. I was prepared to be wrong about kale in general and about kale crisps in particular.

I’ll get to the point: turns out kale crisps are not my thing. Not my cup of tequila, they don’t float my boat and they rub me the wrong way. I just don’t like kale and that’s that.

cavolo nero crisps

Each to their own

But as beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder so the taste is all in the buds.

I find kale tough, someone else might think it firm. I call it bitter and you say it’s savoury. Chewy and fibrous to me, it will be chewy and fibrous to others but with a completely different shade of meaning.

So this is for the fans and I reserve the right to dislike it, if I may. Not everything cooks and chefs make is always to their taste so I don’t see a problem.

I make excellent brownie but it’s not my sweet of choice. I’ve perfected several chip-making methods though personally will always go for mash. And the fish that comes with those chips usually gets de-battered by me before consumption.

oven baked kale crisps

Kale crisp flavours

The recipe makes two flavours of crisps: Middle-Eastern with Baharat or Ras-el-Hanout (at a push mix equal parts of smoked paprika, ground coriander and cinnamon), and chilli-garlic.

As an independent judge - considering how I feel about kale – I’d pick the garlic chilli over Baharat but as tastes are not to be disputed, I give you both.

Is kale the same as cavolo nero?

Kale, the most common variety of which is curly kale, is a type of greens related to cabbage, commonly grown all over Europe but especially in Northern Europe: Germany, the Netherlands and UK. The rest of Europe prefers cabbage and I am totally with them there.

Except for Italians: a variety of kale grown in Tuscany is called ‘black cabbage’: cavolo nero, and that’s what I make my crisps with.

Cavolo nero is a little tenderer than kale and a little less bitter, obviously thanks to the milder growing conditions.

When not making it into crisps, you can cook it gorgeously like spinach or chard. Discard the tough stems, chop it up roughly and sauté in butter with lots of salt and pepper, and a few plump raisins.

cavolo nero

How to make kale crisps

The stems are really tough so the leaves have to be dissected around the stems. Wash them thoroughly and dry as thoroughly, either in a salad spinner or in paper towels.

preparing kale leaves

The spice mix I use is twofold: garlic, chilli and salt, and the other with Baharat or Ras-el-hanout, each a heady Middle Eastern seasoning combining paprika, coriander and cinnamon. Which incidentally is also a mix you can use instead of the ready-mixed spice.

Both mixes are stirred into olive oil, and the kale leaves, torn into chunky pieces are divided between the bowls. Then it’s all about massaging the spices into the leaves, to cover and infuse them as thoroughly as possible.

seasoning kale

Baking/drying happens in a barely warm oven. Electric ones are a definite winner here as it is difficult to maintain steady, low temperature in a gas oven. I usually aim for 100C/212F tops.

Kale chunks are spread on baking trays lined with parchment and they bake until crisp – which at the temperature above takes up to a couple of hours. Make sure you toss gently and turn the pieces halfway through the drying time.

Out of the oven, into a bowl, they will also stay reasonably crisp when stored in an airtight tub.

healthy crisps from curly kale

More healthy snack recipes

Roasted seed and nut mix, a perfect topping for salads, toasted in a warm oven. Salty and crunchy clusters of seeds and nuts are the best addition of fibre and essential nutrients to your diet.

Roasted grapes go marvellously with cheese, with chicken and even with pasta. Their flavour intensifies and a drop of balsamic and a flake of salt complements it magically.

Celery salad with furikake, Japanese sesame and dried seaweed seasoning, is the best way to use that bunch of celery that looks at you reproachfully from the vegetable drawer.

More crispy bite recipes

Brown sugar bacon, crispy bacon baked with brown sugar and mustard glaze, the best sweet and salty party hit. To make it, bake bacon until crispy, then bake it again with the glaze.

Serrano ham, salami and chorizo oven dried crisps are a wonderful snack; lean and mean protein to munch, not only for ketogenic dieters.

Crispy tobacco onions, very easy, very tasty, they beat onion rings anytime. Why are they called tobacco onions? It's because of their colour and curly appearance.

oven dried spiced kale crisps

Kale crisps

Servings: makes 2 small bowlsTime: 50 minutes


  • 400g (about 1 pound) cavolo nero
  • 30g (2 tbsp) olive oil
  • ½ tsp Baharat spice or equal amounts of coriander, smoked paprika and cinnamon
  • coarse sea salt
  • ½ tsp garlic granules
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes


1. Wash the cavolo nero and spin dry in a salad spinner or pat dry with paper towels. Cut out the stems and discard.

2. Tear or cut the leaves into pieces about 5 x 5cm or larger if you wish. Spread them on a tray lined with paper towels to dry completely.

3. Prepare two medium bowls and divide the olive oil between them. Split the dry kale pieces between the bowls.

4. Preheat the oven to minimum: 80C/176F if possible, 100-120C/240F maximum. Prepare two baking trays lined with parchment.

5. Prepare the spice mixes: for the oriental flavour, pound the Baharat (or ras-el-hanout) spice with a pinch of the salt in a pestle and mortar. Transfer to one portion of kale, then pound the garlic, chilli and another pinch of salt and add it to the other bowl.

6. Using your hands massage the oil and seasoning into the kale leaves thoroughly to coat every piece. Spread them over the prepared trays in a single layer and slide into the oven.

7. Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the oven temperature. Rotate the trays, toss the crisps gently on each tray to turn them over and return to the oven for another 40 – 60 minutes. When all the pieces are crisp but not burnt, remove from the oven and cool on the parchment.

8. Keep in a bowl to keep them dry; they will last a few days.

Originally published: Thu, 27 February, 2020

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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